Inviting Submissions to JCLC Online, Our New Feature

New Issue: Volume 110, Issue 3

Volume 110, Issue 2

Symposium 2020

By: February 28, 2020

Volume 110, Issue 1

Retroactive Legality: Marijuana Convictions and Restorative Justice in an Era of Criminal Justice Reform

By: Deborah M. Ahrens | May 14, 2020

The last decade has seen the beginning of a new era in United States criminal justice policy, one characterized by a waning commitment to over-criminalization, mass incarceration, and a punitive War on Drugs as well as a growing regret for the consequences of our prior policies. One of the central questions raised by this shifting paradigm is what to do about the millions of individuals punished, marked, and shunned as a result of policies we now regret. This issue is particularly pointed for marijuana convictions, as the coexistence of strict regimes of collateral consequences for drug convictions and the active government promotion of a new cannabis economy present a stark and deeply racialized contrast. This Article argues that, in states where marijuana has been legalized, our policy-making apparatus should acknowledge and move to redress both the failings of our prior system of drug regulation and the social and economic disparities in current law by embracing a concept of “retroactive legality.” Retroactive legality is a framework in which we seek to restore those convicted of marijuana crimes to the rights and civic status they would have had if their conduct had never been illegal. Such an approach would build upon the piecemeal expungement and pardon policies adopted or proposed in some of these jurisdictions but would reach substantially further, by incorporating those convicted of more serious offenses, putting the onus on the state to identify and clear such convictions, and declining to impose additional requirements and costs on those seeking to have their convictions retroactively legalized.

Federal Detention and “Wild Facts” During the COVID-19 Pandemic

By: Gabriel A. Fuentes | May 14, 2020

Prosecutorial Declination Statements

By: Jessica A. Roth | May 14, 2020

This Article examines how prosecutors convey to various audiences their decisions not to charge in discrete cases. Although prosecutors regularly issue public statements about their declinations—and anecdotal evidence suggests that declination statements are on the rise—there is an absence of literature discussing the interests that such statements serve, the risks that they pose, and how such statements are consistent with the prosecutorial function. Prosecutors also operate in this space without clear ground rules set by law, policies, or professional standards. This Article attempts to fill that void. First, it theorizes the interests potentially advanced by such statements—characterized as signaling, accountability, and history-keeping—and their drawbacks. Next, it describes the current landscape of prosecutorial policies and practices on declination statements and shows how prosecutors would benefit from a more express framework of analysis. Finally, it offers such a framework to assist prosecutors in deciding when and how to issue declination statements. That framework suggests that prosecutors should only issue public declination statements when doing so significantly furthers one or more of the interests identified herein, where the risks posed by such statements are minimized, and where their value cannot be realized through other available means, including other types of statements.